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How do I help my 7-year-old who feels left out when his friends won't play or sit with him?

My 7-year-old said he sat by his friend and his friend moved away and sat by a different friend. He was very hurt and didn't understand why. I told him that he should sit by one of his other friends, or he should just sit wherever he wants and let his friend sit next to him if they want to. This is not a new issue with him being and/or feeling left out. I want him to be secure and comfortable in himself without needing others to make him feel worthy of their attention. Please help. Thank you.

Submitted by samanthawaxler1

 

It's difficult to tell from our children what the reality of a situation really is. If these situations happen at school, ask your child's teacher for her view of these situations. You might be surprised at the different story she gives. Often, our children focus on one small element of the situation and miss the whole story.

In any case, these social interactions are great opportunities to discuss the complex situations everyone encounters every day -- even adults. Show him how these things don't usually happen out of nowhere -- usually, something happens to lead up to them. Ask what happened BEFORE your son's friend moved to another seat. Perhaps there was an interaction that went wrong, or even a little squabble. Get more details about the squabble and help him decide how to best handle it next time. Problem-solve in the future for what he can do next time -- including asking a teacher or adult for help.

Make sure you have an accepting, calm tone when you discuss these things so that your son feels supported, and will seek you out more and more to help him navigate his complicated social life. That's a foundation you'll be happy to have when he becomes an adolescent!

 

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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